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Classroom Strategies

Directed Reading Thinking Activity (DRTA)


The Directed Reading Thinking Activity (DRTA) is a strategy that guides students in asking questions about a text, making predictions, and then reading to confirm or refute their predictions. The DRTA process encourages students to be active and thoughtful readers, enhancing their comprehension


A DRTA may be used with an individual, a small group, or a whole class. This activity can be easily adapted for a variety of subjects and reading levels. This strategy helps strengthen reading and critical thinking skills. As the teacher guides the process, the DRTA teaches students to determine the purpose for reading and make adjustments to what they think will come next based on the text. 

Create and use the strategy

Determine the text to be used and pre-select points for students to pause during the reading process. The reading should be broken into small sections so that the students have time to think about and process information. The amount of reading should be adjusted to fit the purpose and the difficulty of the text. Introduce the text, the purpose of the DRTA and gives examples of how to make predictions. Be aware of the reading levels of each student, and be prepared to provide appropriate questions, prompts, and support as needed. Encourage students not to be intimidated by taking a risk with predictions and not to feel pressure to state only correct predictions.

D - DIRECT - Teachers direct and stimulate students’ thinking prior to reading a passage by scanning the title, chapter headings, illustrations, and other explanatory materials. Then teachers should use open-ended questions to direct students as they make predictions about the content or perspective of the text (e.g., “Given this title, what do you think the passage will be about?”). Students should be encouraged to justify their responses and activate prior knowledge.

R - READING - Teachers should have students read up to the first pre-selected stopping point in the text. The teacher then prompts the students with questions about specific information and asks them to evaluate their predictions and refine them if necessary. This process should be continued until students have read each section of the passage. 

T - THINKING - At the end of the reading, teachers should have students go back through the text and think about their predictions. Students should verify or modify the accuracy of their predictions by finding supporting statements in the text. The teacher deepens the thinking process by asking questions such as:

  • What do you think about your predictions now?
  • What did you find in the text to prove your predictions?
  • What did you find in the text that caused you to modify your predictions?

NOTE: Writing may be included as part of the DRTA. As students become more comfortable with this strategy, have each student write predictions in a learning log or on a piece of paper. Then, in small groups, students can discuss their predictions and share their thinking processes. Next ask students to write summary statements about how their predictions compared to the passage.

Further reading 

Research citations

Jennings, C. & Shepherd, J. (1998). Literacy and the key learning areas: successful classroom strategies. Eleanor Curtain Publishing. 

Lenski, Susan D., Wham, Mary Ann, & Johns, Jerry L. (1999). Reading and learning strategies for middle and high school students. Dubuque, IA: Kendall/Hunt. 

Murdoch, K. (1998). Classroom Connections: Strategies for Integrated Learning.Eleanor Curtain Publishing. 

Stauffer, R. G. (1969). Directing reading maturity as a cognitive process. New York: Harper & Row.